Attorneys in Greece – Lawyers in Athens & Thessaloniki

Greek Competition Law

Greek Competition Law

Kosmidis & Partners, attorneys

Partnering international businesses in Greece

Greek Competition Law falls under the provisions of law no. 703/1977 «on the control of monopolies and oligopolies and the protection of free trade», which is compatible with the regulations with the Treaty on the European Union. This law covers the following: agreements, the abuse of a dominant position and the merging of companies.

Prohibited Agreements

Article 1 of law 703/1977 prohibits all agreements between companies, trade unions and any merger practice of businesses, which prevent, restrict or distort competition. Such instances include the following:

  1. the direct or indirect setting of purchase or sale prices or of other provisions of trade
  2. the restriction or control of production, distribution, technological development or investment
  3. the allocation of markets or sources of supply
  4. the application of unequal terms in trade in relation to equivalent transactions, especially via the unjustified refusal to sell, purchase or engage in any other transaction
  5. the dependency of awarding contracts on the receipt of additional supplies by the contracting parties, which do not relate to the subject of the contracts according to their· nature and commercial habits.

Acts covered by the above circumstances can be deemed to be entirely or partially valid, provided:

  1. they contribute, with the fair participation of consumers, to the improvement of manufacture or distribution of products or to the promotion of technical or economic progress,
  2. they do not impose restrictions on companies besides what is absolutely necessary for the attainment of their goals, and c) they do not grant to these companies the ability to stifle competition in a significant part of the market

Abuse of Dominant Position

Law no. 703/1977 also prohibits the abuse of a company in a dominant position.This happens mainly:

  1. in the direct or indirect blackmailing in relation to setting the prices of sale or purchase or other unreasonable trading conditions
  2. in the restriction of the production, consumption or technological development to the detriment of consumers
  3. in the application of unequal terms on equal provisions, especially in relation to the unjustified refusal to sell, purchase or engage in any other transaction, so as to place certain companies at a competitive disadvantage
  4. in the dependency of awarding contracts on the receipt of additional supplies by the contracting parties or on the awarding of additional contracts, which do not relate to the subject of the contracts according to their nature and commercial habits.

Concentration of Companies

Although prohibited agreements and concentration may overlap in practice, the law clearly distinguishes between the two, stipulating that the concentrating of companies is not considered illegal unless certain criteria are established.

According to law no. 703/1977 merging occurs:

  1. when two or more formerly independent businesses merge in any way whatsoever,
  2. when two or more persons who control one or more businesses, acquire, directly or indirectly, the control of the whole or part of one or more other businesses.

The creation of a joint venture which performs all the functions of an autonomous economic entity on a permanent basis is deemed to amount to a concentration under law no. 703/1977.

Each and every concentrating of companies must be made known within a month of its creation to the Competition Commission provided

  1. the market share of the products or services relating to the concentrating represents the national market or a substantial part of it, depending on the characteristics of the products or services, at least 10% of the total turnover in the products or services which are considered identical by the consumer, due to their features, price and intended use, or
  2. the total turnover of all the business participating in the concentration is· at least 15.000.000 Euros in the national market.

Greek Competition LawOn the other hand, law no. 703/1977 provides for the prior notification of a concentration. Specifically, every concentration must be made know to the Competition Commission within 10 working days from the conclusion of the agreement or the publication of the offer, exchange or acceptance of participation, which secures the control of the business, when the combined aggregate worldwide turnover of all participating undertakings is at least equal to the amount of 150.000.000 Euros, and each of at least two participating undertakings has an aggregated turnover of at least 15.000.000 Euros in Greece.

With notification cases, the “market share” is· the aggregate market share of all the participating businesses in the national market or in the segment of the concentration in question. The aggregate turnover includes the amounts· from the sale of products and the provision of services from the businesses in question in the national or global market, during the most recent financial use and are equivalent to their usual activities after the sale discounts, V.A.T. and other taxes relevant to the trade are removed.

The Competition Commission has the authority to decide whether a concentration is covered by the prohibitive provisions and thus, it can prohibit the above activities by threatening to impose a high penalty on the concentration in question. If the Commission deems the concentration does not cause serious doubts as to its ability to significantly restrict the competition within the markets concerned, the Commission then passes a decision approving the merger in question.